Clip+Slide | Stairs to Music


CLIP+SLIDE transforms stairs into slides and musical instruments, creating moments of play and joy in an urban game of chutes and ladders.

“Of all animal species, humans are the biggest players of all. We are built to play and built through play. When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality. Is it any wonder that often the times we feel most alive, those that make up our best memories, are moments of play?”
-Stuart Brown, PLAY

Stairs throughout our cities serve a utilitarian purpose - to move vertically from point A below to point B above, or vice versa. Their presence is framed by code requirements and necessity, and their experience is often avoided or inconsequential.

CLIP+SLIDE: We propose transforming stairs from forgotten moments of public utility to moments of play and joy in the city. Stairs become slides and musical instruments in an urban game of Chutes and Ladders. The game begins with the construction of the slide and continues with each use. Each clip+slide kit comes equipped with a deck of cards of assembly options. Additional options and a forum that elicits user designs are available online.

The cladding system is a series of brightly colored plexi-glass laminated wood strips that clip together to existing staircases. Each strip has a sensor that is activated by touch and triggers musical tones. The slide becomes a xylophone. Players are both the composers and the mallets. They post their configurations and share their music. The playing of the game fosters creativity, learning, and community, bringing pleasure and delight to all ages. Its presence encourages stair use over alternative more energy consumptive means of vertical circulation; through the propagation of these whimsical interventions, the city itself becomes a playground.

Design Process

1) City-Wide Analysis > 2) Identify Various Stairs > 3) Parametric Site Design > 4) CNC Unit Prototype > 5) Electronics Prototype > 6) Functional Prototype at Urban Prototyping Display

Design Tools

GIS (Citywide analysis) > Rhino > Grasshopper (Site specific analysis) > CNC Routing > On Site Fabrication

Media:  Geospatial analysis, parametric modeling, CNC routing, laser cutting and fabrication
Type: Urban design / Public space prototype
Dimension: Across the City of San Francisco
Budget: Urban Prototyping San Francisco Festival
Research Group: Prof. Nicholas De Monchaux
Project Team: Eleanor Pries, Shivang Patwa, Allison Owens, Yess Duffy and Marina Christodoulides

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